Washoe Grand Jury Makes Public
Elliott List of Airport Allegations

   copyright (c) 1997, Electric Nevada

Showing apparent new independence from District Attorney Dick Gammick, the Washoe County Grand Jury Thursday released to its fellow citizens a letter listing allegations of ethical violations and possible lawbreaking by county Airport Authority staff and board members.
Gammick had wanted the letter -- written last September by then-Sparks City Attorney Steven Elliott -- kept secret.
Indeed, after current acting Sparks City Attorney Chet Adams released a redacted version of the letter April 19 to political activists Guy Felton and Sam Dehne -- who placed the document on the World Wide Web -- Gammick announced Adams' action would be reviewed "for possible prosecution."
But Thursday, the same day that Gammick announced that he was asking Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa to conduct the prosecution review, District Judge Steven R. Kosach, at the request of the Washoe County Grand Jury, represented by a new fore-person, was approving release to the public of the entire, unredacted, letter, plus all five of its attachments.
Eighteen allegations were itemized in Elliott's September 13 letter. The charges included false reports by the Airport Authority to state agencies, dubious Authority gratuities for politicians and regulators, personal recreational outings paid for by the authority for airport director Robert White and selected board members, unfair business practices, and asserted sweetheart arrangements for contractors.
Also released were several other documents submitted by Elliott at the same time and a response to Elliott signed by the then-foreman of the jury, James Hanson.
In a letter sent September 26, less than two weeks after receipt of the litany of charges in the Sparks City Attorney's list, Hansen said that "[a]fter reviewing the entire matter, we were unable to find any allegations that we

believe are criminal, at least based on the information that was furnished."
In a letter that evidenced no understanding of the American grand jury's historical investigatory role in the judicial process, Hanson counseled Elliott that "if there is further information available as to any of these allegations which would indicate criminal conduct, we recommend that it be submitted to Captain Ernest Jesch of the Washoe County Sheriff's Department," said Hanson.
"The Sheriff's Department has agreed to investigate any criminal allegations and to submit those investigations to the Washoe County District Attorney's Office for evaluation."
Hanson concluded the letter similarly: "If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me, either through Judge [Mills] Lane or District Attorney Gammick."
Efforts by Electric Nevada to reach Hanson Saturday were unsuccessful. All three James Hansons listed in the Reno telephone book denied being the former foreman of the grand jury.
Efforts to reach the current acting fore-person of the grand jury, Aurora Cortez, were similarly unsuccessful. The motion submitted Thursday by the grand jury to Judge Kosach for release of the full text of Elliott's letter and attachments was signed by Ms. Cortez.

Elliott's original letter, with attachments

Response signed by Hanson

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